Rides By Kam-built, NASCAR-powered Plymouth ‘Cuda

Trent Carter challenged Rides By Kam to take one of the best-looking muscle cars ever designed and make it even better

Photographers: Chris Thorogood

If you think you might be suffering from a mild case of déjà vu, as I did when I first saw images of Trent Carter’s breathtaking 1970 Barracuda, don’t worry, there’s a perfectly good explanation.

First published in the June 2022 issue of Street Machine

Back in the January 2020 issue of Street Machine, we featured Rob Zahabi’s ’70 Challenger, ‘Havoc’. Rob is the boss at Gold Coast workshop Rides By Kam, and if you remember his Challenger, you’ll notice a definite family resemblance between it and Trent’s ’Cuda. Rides By Kam’s distinctive design cues are stamped all over both cars, and Rob and his talented crew have transformed this ’Cuda from a tidy streeter into a stunning show-stopper dubbed ‘Notorious’.

Trent bought the car through a friend around six years ago. “I got a phone call from a mate that a 1970 ’Cuda project car had just been put up for sale. I got in touch with Dave, the owner, and did a deal straight away to purchase it,” he recalls. “I took the car home and put it in the garage, but not long after, I negotiated with Dave for him to continue working on it to finish off the bodywork.”

John Monro from Monro Race Cars is a good mate of Trent’s from when he was a young bloke growing up on Bribie Island. John had already done a fair bit of chassis and suspension fab work on the ’Cuda for the previous owner, but Trent decided to reassess the build and go a bit further. “The car was mint when Dave finished his part, but it was going to have a pretty standard interior, standard boot and standard engine bay,” he says. “It did already have the nice tubs and chassis under it, but after assessing it, we pretty well started from scratch again.”

The whole front end is Corvette gear that’s been narrowed to suit the car – which may tug at the heartstrings of some of the torsion bar-loving Mopar nuts out there, but it made life a lot easier for Trent in terms of the availability of brakes and aftermarket suspension components. The diff, tubs, front suspension, motor, exhaust and chassis were all done by Monro Race Cars before being sent off to the Rides By Kam team, who convinced Trent to swap out the coil-overs for a RideTech ShockWave airbag system.

“I had a great working relationship with RBK because they were already working on my HT Monaro, which is also going to be a pretty wild build,” Trent says. “But I said, ‘Let’s just shelve that one and hook into the ’Cuda.’ I liked the fact that Rob’s boys, Mitch and Coop, were learning their craft on my cars. Every time I dropped in or Rob called me, we’d add something or come up with another idea. But I did walk in there with a list of dot points, and they all respected that.

“I wanted a metal interior with a little bit of leather, and I wanted the engine bay to look different to all the other engine bays out there,” Trent continues. “I also said we had to change it up to a manual and it had to be injected.” Trent provided the Richmond Super T10 four-speed ’box and vertical-gate shifter, the latter of which was a must-have: “My wife used to drive our nine-second Torana to work and back with one,” he explains.

RBK also handled the engine bay fabrication, which was pretty substantial, as Trent decided not to go with one of the usual Mopar small-block, big-block or Hemi choices – any of which would have been awesome. He did keep it in the family by choosing an engine from Dodge, though.

Yes, it is a small-block – 358 cubic inches to be precise, which isn’t a number you’d ordinarily see plastered down the side of your Mopar muscle car. Nope, this is something much more modern, but still with just one camshaft and 16 pushrods. Figured it out yet? Yep, it’s one of those 9000rpm, 900hp naturally aspirated R5P7 NASCAR donks.

The motor and clutch assembly came through Steve Day in Melbourne, who is the go-to guy for these motors in Oz, and he also created the custom eight-stack injection, which you can see poking out of the engine cover so beautifully crafted by RBK.

Those swoopy covers at the front of the bay don’t just hide the radiator and cooling system; there’s also a surge tank for the EFI, along with a five-gallon oil tank for the dry sump system.

As well as all of that amazing custom metalwork in the engine bay, boot and interior, RBK also added a few bespoke touches to the body. “They dropped the sills, tucked the bumpers, flush-fitted front and rear screens, completed the ducktail spoiler to the trailing edge of the boot, and fitted a set of flush-fitting Kindig-It Design door handles,” Trent says. “I said to Rob that no matter how much we change stuff, I still want it to look like a ’Cuda.”

When it came time to start talking about the final colour, Trent and the boys at RBK hatched a plan: “We were standing in the RBK workshop and I said green, and the boys faces lit up,” Trent says. “In the end, the pitch was to have a car that looked black in the shade but green under light, and to also have some contrasting gold elements.

“Rob contacted Charley Hutton in the States, and after some back and forth and a few trials and tests, Charley came up with the custom green we finished up with. Rob was organising for Charley to fly out and help lay the paint on once the bodywork was complete, but it coincided with COVID kicking in.”

As you can see in the pics, the RBK team is more than capable of applying a stunning paintjob, and our ace snapper Chris Thorogood has managed to catch all the varying moods of the colour.

The car debuted at Summernats 34 and was showered in trophies, including Top Judged Elite. If not for some bad luck prior to the driving events, it could have been a real contender for Grand Champ, too. “I got there late that morning, so one of the other guys jumped in and unfortunately smoked the clutch,” Trent explains. “It didn’t worry me at all, but I was disappointed for Rob and the boys, as we were real contenders for the sword.

“Since Summernats, we have taken it on a few quick drives, and the best part is definitely the sound of the thing revving at 9000rpm!” We can imagine, Trent!


Paint: Charley Hutton PPG Custom Green
Type: Dodge R5P7 NASCAR 358ci
Inlet: Custom Steve Day ITB
Heads: Dodge NASCAR
Valves: 2.185in (in), 1.625in (ex)
Cam: Comp Cams solid-roller
Pistons: JE
Crank: Bryant
Conrods: Carrillo
Radiator: PWR
Exhaust: Custom 2in headers, twin 3in system, MagnaFlow mufflers
ECU: Link
Box: Richmond Super T10
Clutch: Tilton
Diff: 9in, full-floater, 35-spline, 3.7:1 gears
Front end: Narrowed C6 Corvette
Shocks: RideTech ShockWave airbags
Steering: Custom C6 Corvette
Brakes: Wilwood
Wheels: Billet Specialties Extreme Concave Turbine; 20×8.5 (f), 22×12 (r)
Tyres: 275/30ZR20 (f), 335/25ZR22 (r)

Rob, Coop, Mitch and Andy at Rides By Kam (and Tricia); John Monro at Monro Race Cars; 3M Vibrance Collection; PPG; Meguiar’s; Steve Day; Charley Hutton’s Color Studio; Melomotive; the Worth Family: James, Andy and Darryl; Dave and Alex (Balls) Carter; Lissy, Preecy and Paige.